The 7 Powers of Questions

I’ve heard lots of questions over the years. Some were small. Others brilliant. Some reflected sincere but dead-end pursuits. Smart people ask short-sighted questions when they focus on the wrong things.

“What should you have done?” belittles sincere effort and past wisdom. Don’t ‘should on’ people. Instead, press into future possibilities. “What will you do differently next time?” Can you feel the respect and focus of ‘next time’ questions?

Some questions are complaints. Image of a concerned dog.

The 7 powers of questions:

  1. Limit answers.
  2. Set direction.
  3. Create focus.
  4. Stimulate creativity.
  5. Encourage reflection.
  6. Strengthen relationships.
  7. Inspire action.

Drucker’s 5 most important questions:

  1. What is our mission? – Clarify purpose and direction. Establish a common goal.
  2. Who is our customer? – Design products of services that meet the needs and expectations of customers.
  3. What does the customer value? – Identify and prioritize the key features and benefits that customers are looking for.
  4. What are our results? – Measure and monitor performance. Identify areas of improvement.
  5. What is our plan? – Develop clear, actionable plans for achieving goals. Ensure alignment and focus on execution.

Read: The Five Most Important Questions You will ever Ask About Your Organization.

Tip: Forward-facing curiosity coupled with a learner’s attitude solves many leadership struggles.

The question I have never heard:

I’ve heard:

  1. How can I hold people accountable? (Sometimes means how can I get people to do things they don’t want to do.)
  2. How can I motivate people?
  3. What’s the best way to confront a problem employee?
  4. How can I have tough conversations?
  5. How can I invite constructive dissent in meetings?
  6. How can I do more of what matters?
  7. How can I fix my boss? (Not usually asked that directly.)

I’ve never heard anyone ask, “How can I love people?” Not one. I wonder if our curiosity is misguided.

What do you need to ask that enables you to move forward with gusto?

Still curious:

1 Simple Strategy to Design Smart Questions